Playing around: 

Ashley Raines

  • Photo by Kristina Wright

McCabe's Tavern, 520 S. Tejon St., 633-3300 Friday, Feb. 9,and Saturday, Feb. 10, 8 p.m. No cover.

For a decade-plus since escaping the Midwest at 18 singer-songwriter Ashley Raines has traveled the continent playing his music. In the early years, he lived in a tent and hitched a ride to his shows.

"I was paying my dues," Raines says. "It gave me the opportunity to play for people while I learned."

Largely self-taught, Raines can play most any instrument he picks up: guitar, drums, dobro, mandolin, piano and banjo.

In the same way that Raines has roamed the country, each of his five albums has ventured into different musical territory from the rugged, bluesy sound of his 2003 acoustic release, Dirty Little Soul, to the straight-ahead, electric rock on his latest offering, Machine Kills.

"The hardest thing to do is to fit myself into one genre," admits Raines. "Albums to me are almost like books, with each one a new chapter."

Though different, the albums are linked by their raw, stripped-down sound. Like his live shows, Machine Kills features only Raines' vocals, electric guitar and drums.

So what's next?

"I've written a few country songs lately the dirty kind of country, like old Willie Nelson stuff," Raines says. "And I'd like to make a jazz album."

Jill Thomas


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